Prevention of type I diabetes in nonobese diabetic mice by virus infection

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Science  29 Jan 1988:
Vol. 239, Issue 4839, pp. 500-502
DOI: 10.1126/science.239.4839.500


The nonobese diabetic (NOD) mouse is an animal model of type I diabetes and develops a characteristic autoimmune lesion in the islets of Langerhans with lymphocytic infiltration and destruction of pancreatic beta cells. The result is hypoinsulinemia, hyperglycemia, ketoacidosis, and death. Diabetes usually begins by the sixth month of age but can occur earlier when young NOD mice are infused with lymphocytes from older NOD donors. When newborn or adult NOD mice were infected with a lymphotropic virus they did not become diabetic. The interaction between viruses and lymphocytes is pivotal in aborting diabetes, as established by experiments in which lymphocytes from virus-infected donors failed to transfer diabetes. In contrast, lymphocytes from age- and sex-matched uninfected donors caused disease. Therefore, viruses and, presumably, their products can be developed to be beneficial and may have potential as a component for treatment of human diseases. Further, these results point to the utility of viruses as probes for dissecting the pathogenesis of a nonviral disease.

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